Day 642: Cursed in Bathurst

Laetitia and her group headed northeast from Miramichi. Their first destination was Mount Carlton, the highest point in New Brunswick (2,680 feet). After spending most of the morning hiking there, they moved on to Jacquet River Gorge, a photogenic natural area featuring stunning views of waterfalls and abundant wildlife. That evening they arrived in Bathurst, a harbor town situated on the estuary of the Nepisiguit River. The portion of the latter from Mount Carlton to Bathurst is a favorite of canoeists, although it has some dangerous rapids. Originally called Nepisiguit, and later St. Peter, Bathurst was a paper mill town for much of its early life. Today it’s a popular tourist destination with excellent beaches, sightseeing, and bird-watching opportunities.

At Laetitia’s usual afternoon happy hour sojourn, she watched a young man at the other end of the bar. His face told a story. His lips were moving as he made sidelong glances toward a table of young women having an afternoon drink at a corner table. Then his smile faded as they abruptly finished their drinks and left. Laetitia turned her interpretation of the event into the limerick of the day.

The young man believed he was cursed
When the table of women dispersed
While he was immersed
In the speech he rehearsed
At a bar in the town of Bathhurst.

Day 641: Preachy in Miramichi

Laetitia and her group drove inland from Sainte-Anne-de-Kent. They spent much of the day canoeing and hiking through the balsam, fir, and spruce forests in the Kennedy Lakes area of New Brunswick.

Toward evening they headed back toward the coast to Miramichi, a city of about 17,000 residents situated where the Miramichi River enters Miramichi Bay. As is typical of New Brunswick cities, it was originally Mi’kmaq territory, then a French outpost. The British burned it after the French and Indian War in the 1750s. A permanent settlement of several hundred Scots was established after the war. British loyalists arrived after the American Revolution in the 1780s, and Irish refugees after the 1840s potato famine. The emigration due to the potato famine is a likely explanation for the ubiquity of Irish pubs outside of Ireland. It’s hard to find a city anywhere in the world that doesn’t have at least one. Laetitia found one such establishment after dropping off her group with instructions about where to meet for dinner.

As she sipped single-malt Jameson at the bar, she couldn’t help but overhear the cell-phone conversation at a nearby table. A man was ignoring his table companions and loudly trying to browbeat someone into joining him for a drink. As it became clear that the recipient of the call, whose name apparently was Helen, wasn’t interested, the man’s voice became shriller and more insistent. Eventually when he became louder and more abusive, patrons at other tables began to yell “Shut up!” and the man left the bar. Laetitia finished her drink, wrote a limerick on her bar napkin, and went off to join her group.

Cell phone conversations are peachy
In a calm voice that’s not shrill and preachy
That our nerves soon will jar
Like the one near the bar
At the Irish pub in Miramichi.

Day 640: Bent in Sainte-Anne-De-Kent

Although she had been a Mind’s Eye Limerick Tour leader for almost two years, Laetitia always entered the Emerald Victorian with a sense of anticipation. She never knew quite what to expect. Today’s surprise when she walked through the front door and into the kitchen was the absence of the usual auto-drip coffee pot. In its place was a small, one-cup espresso machine. Beside it were several packets marked “Espresso Roast—fine grind—one cup.” A few minutes later she was sitting in a comfortable chair in the library planning the day’s trip with the aroma of fresh-brewed espresso wafting from her cup.

Laetitia and her group drove back across the Northumberland Strait, leaving Prince Edward Island and re-entering New Brunswick. They drove along the shore of the strait, stopping along the way for photo opportunities. Their destination was Kouchibouguac National Park, a natural area with barrier islands, woodlands, rivers, salt marshes, beaches, and lagoons. The highlights of their day there were their sightings of seals and the endangered piping plover.

They spent the evening in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, where the gossip from a nearby table of elderly women inspired the limerick of the day.

The dowager set loathed the bent
Of a lady from Sainte-Anne-de-Kent
To seek men in bars
With cash and fine cars
And swap love to pay for the rent.

Day 639: Gables Fables

From Moncton, Laetitia and her group drove east to the Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area. There they had a hike, watched some shore birds, and visited the lighthouse. Afterward, they crossed the Confederation Bridge over the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island. It is the largest of a collection of islands that make up the smallest Canadian province, also called Prince Edward Island. It’s an area of great natural beauty. The group began the afternoon walking on one of its reddish-white sand beaches and watching sea and shore birds. Afterward, they went to Cavendish, where they were spending the night.

On the way they stopped at the Anne of Green Gables house. Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the bestselling novel, lived in Cavendish with her grandparents, who raised her after her mother died. Her grandfather’s cousin owned the house that was the setting for the novel. Montgomery drew from childhood experiences and other sources as inspirations for the book, the first in a series about her red-headed protagonist, Anne Shirley. Interestingly, Montgomery’s vision of what the wholesome girl looked like was inspired by a photograph clipped from Metropolitan Magazine. The fashion model for the photograph was Evelyn Nesbit, who was blessed with an angelic face but was no stranger to scandal. The 1906 murder of her former lover, architect Stanford White, by her demented husband, Harry Thaw, who claimed to be defending her honor, shocked and titillated the nation. The notoriety surrounding ensuing “trial of the century” made Nesbit a cultural icon, a paradox between purity and forbidden pleasure. This contrast between image and reality and some catty gossip overheard at dinner about a pretty waitress inspired Laetitia’s limerick of the day.

The angel in white waiting tables
Is a redhead like Anne of Green Gables
Though some say her purity
Was not such a surety
And based less on fact than on fables.